Lancs councillors urge government to publish unredacted fracking report

Lancashire county councillors have called unanimously on the Government to publish the full version of a report about the potential impact of a shale gas industry on the rural economy.

The report, Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts, was released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in July 2014 in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. But there were more than 60 redactions,including a section on the impact of house prices.

Last month, the Energy Minister, Amber Rudd, refused to release the full version, saying it was a draft and was incomplete.

A motion, moved at a full meeting of Lancashire County Council today (26th February 2015), called on the Government to release the report in full. It was approved unanimously.

Labour councillor, Marcus Johnstone, who moved the motion, said:

“Many people have concerns about the potential development of a shale gas industry, including the availability of relevant information about how the industry might affect the community they live in.

“This report could be a valuable source of information but it was heavily redacted when it was published and the Government has so far been unwilling to release the full document.
“The Notice of Motion means that the council will now formally ask the Government to release the report in full, in the interests of transparency.”

The seconder, Cllr Gina Dowding (Green), added:

“It’s very clear from what you can see of this report that a large amount of information has been left out of the published version, and it appears that the omissions include some significant details.

“The support given by all county councillors to the Notice of Motion reflects a belief that the public should be entitled to see that information, to contribute to a full and open debate.

“We hope the Government will respond quickly and positively to our request.”

The council’s chief executive Jo Turton will now write to Defra on behalf of the county council, asking for the complete report to be published.

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